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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 February 2008, 08:37 GMT
Sat-navs 'harm railway bridges'
A satellite navigation device
Satellite navigation devices are becoming increasingly popular
Millions of pounds worth of damage is being caused to Britain's railway infrastructure by lorry drivers following satellite navigation devices.

Network Rail says 2,000 bridges are hit every year by lorries travelling on inappropriate roads.

The resulting disruption is said to cost the rail industry 10m a year and causes 5,000 hours of delays.

Network Rail is appealing to drivers to pay attention to road signs warning them of hazards ahead.

Bridge map

PJ Taylor, from Network Rail, said in the last few years the number of vehicles hitting bridges had increased sharply.

"Sat-navs are a great tool but they are not an alternative for keeping your wits about you and obeying the rules of the road," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

Talks were under way with satellite navigation companies about how the problem could be resolved, he said.

In the meantime, Network Rail said it was working on a project to map the UK's low bridges and level crossings so that information could be fed into sat-nav software.

The shortcomings of sat-nav systems have been widely reported, from lorries getting stuck in narrow country lanes, to out-of-date sat-nav systems directing fans and players to Swansea's old football ground, and even a coachload of shoppers ending up in the wrong country.

Paula Ceely's car
Paula Ceely's car was hit by a train

Car drivers have also landed themselves in difficulties for slavishly following their in-car technology.

Paula Ceely narrowly escaped injury last May when she followed her sat-nav system onto a railway track at Ffynongain in south Wales.

The 20-year-old student was on her way to see her boyfriend when she tried to cross the line in the dark.

She heard a train horn and realised the vehicle was on the track moments before the train smashed into her car.

And last month in Suffolk a takeaway delivery driver, who had misunderstood his sat-nav directions, drove onto a railway line.

Instead of turning into a small road, the foreign student drove onto the line and became stuck between a cattle grid and the track.

Trains were held up for an hour as he and his passenger tried to push the car off the line.

SEE ALSO
Sat-nav directions trap vehicles
29 Jan 08 |  Manchester
Sat-nav puts driver on rail line
17 Jan 08 |  England
Sat-nav 'trapped' lorry for days
18 Dec 07 |  England
Routes appeal to sat nav makers
01 Sep 07 |  Somerset
Sat nav error puts an end to trip
23 Mar 07 |  Hampshire

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